In starting Empire of the Over-Mind within a few short steps you are on a forest path with a red planet overhead, relishing the choice between a mountain trail and a cave. Adventure stretches out before you, forty characters of text per line, or maybe sixty. As in all text adventures, that particular stretch of forest path in Empire of the Over-Mind may become over-familiar before you get yourself to the right place with the right items to travel finally to the red planet.
Empire of the Over-Mind departs from typical text adventures, though, in its movement. Cardinal directions are not used. Instead, one references the avenue of movement: the road, door, or even cliff-face which leads to the next location. Also unusual is the ability to look ahead -- e.g. down the road -- and see what is there before moving. The objects you see ahead can vary from game to game: sometimes the key glints enticingly while the skeleton hides in the shadows, other times you can only see the key if you bravely confront the skeleton. Menacing though the perils are, your mistakes are gently handled: even the crocodile only "clobbers" you.
Typical of the era, the parser handles two-word verb-object combinations, or three words if an adjective is needed. Depending on the platform, item locations can vary from start to start, and getting clobbered means you have to hunt them all down again. Necessary clues are hidden in a long, printed poem which comes with the game. Avalon Hill's instructions are a fascinating artifact themselves. Besides the profoundly basic level -- covering the "prompt character," the back-space key, and the exigencies of programming in 48K or less -- a memory map is offered. No simple "Save" command or hotkey here: a little assembly language saves the game state.